The week of the jamón

Finally, after two months of filler, of pretending this blog is about science or experiencing a new culture or some such, I can finally write the blog post that this website was born to host. The real reason we moved to Spain. La semana del jamón.

Jamon of the house
Meet our newest housemate!

Jamón—pork that is cured by drying and salting, as opposed to your standard sandwich ham, which is boiled in brine or baked—is served at almost every restaurant here. Legs of it are sold at the supermarket, even at the German chain Lidl, and it has been our dream, nay our mission, to own a leg of jamón during our stay. So with my second paycheck we braved the wind and cold last Saturday and journeyed to the nearest Mercadona to procure ourselves a slice (multiple slices hopefully) of history.

Jamon on wheels
Jamón on wheels

It took us three laps of the supermarket to work up the courage to approach the jamón counter. There were hind legs (jamón) and forelegs (paleta) for sale, all hanging up behind the friendly butcher. We wanted the real deal, the jamón ibérico. This grand-daddy of pig products comes from black-footed Iberican pigs that are apparently fed only acorns. The meat is cured for over two years (so the butcher told us) and is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It was tempting, but we just could not justify the 99€ (~$150 AUD) price tag.

The jamón serrano was more our style, from white mountain pigs that are fed mostly cereal and cured for only 12 months. After a free tasting, and a confusing conversation in Spanish, we left the supey with 8kg of pork for only 48€.

We got her home and started slicing. Although we’re not completely convinced the leg is the right way up, so far we have not cut off any fingers. OK yes, some of the slices are still landing on the floor, but we’re getting there. We have now accumulated all of the accessories too: a jamonero (‘ham house’ –not the direct translation but quite the table centrepiese) and a long sharp flexible knife for cutting nice clean slices.

Apparently you need to keep eating the jamón every day or two so that the exposed meat does not go bad. Who are we to ignore this advice? Stay tuned for ‘The Week We Finish The Jamón’. Likely to be next week…

Jamon for lunch
Our first attempts at slicing the jamón. Another nominee for worst photo on this blog but my golly was it delicious!
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